- sax (n.)
- 1923, colloquial shortening of saxophone.
- saxifrage (n.)
- type of plant typically found in cold regions, late 14c., from Old French saxifrage (13c.), from Late Latin saxifraga, name of a kind of herb, from Latin saxifraga herba, literally "a rock-breaking herb," from saxifragus "stonebreaking," from saxum "stone, rock" + frag-, root of frangere "to break" (see fraction). Pliny says the plant was so called because it was given to dissolve gallstones, but a more likely explanation is that it was so called because it grows in crevices in rocks. (Latin used different words for "stone" and "gallstone" -- saxum and calculus). Related: Saxifragaceous.
- Saxon (n.)
- c. 1200, from Late Latin Saxonem (nominative Saxo; also source of French Saxon, Spanish Sajon, Italian Sassone), usually found in plural Saxones, from a Germanic source (Old English Seaxe, Old High German Sahsun, German Sachse "Saxon"), with a possible literal sense of "swordsmen" (compare Old English seax, Old Frisian, Old Norse sax "knife, short sword, dagger," Old High German Saxnot, name of a war-god), from Proto-Germanic *sahsam "knife," from PIE *sek- "to cut" (see section (n.)).
The word figures in the well-known story, related by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who got it from Nennius, of the treacherous slaughter by the Anglo-Saxons of their British hosts:
Accordingly they all met at the time and place appointed, and began to treat of peace; and when a fit opportunity offered for executing his villany, Hengist cried out, "Nemet oure Saxas," and the same instant seized Vortigern, and held him by his cloak. The Saxons, upon the signal given, drew their daggers, and falling upon the princes, who little suspected any such design, assassinated them to the number of four hundred and sixty barons and consuls ....The OED editors helpfully point out that the correct Old English (with an uninflected plural) would be nimað eowre seax. For other Germanic national names that may have derived from characteristic tribal weapons, see Frank, Lombard. As an adjective from 1560s. Still in 20c. used by Celtic speakers to mean "an Englishman" (Welsh Sais, plural Seison "an Englishman;" Seisoneg "English").
In reference to the modern German state of Saxony (German Sachsen, French Saxe) it is attested from 1630s. Saxon is the source of the -sex in Essex, Sussex, etc. (compare Middlesex, from Old English Middel-Seaxe "Middle Saxons"). Bede distinguished the Anglo-Saxons, who conquered much of southern Britain, from the Ealdesaxe "Old Saxons," who stayed in Germany.
- saxophone (n.)
- 1851, from French saxophone, named for Antoine Joseph "Adolphe" Sax (1814-1894), Belgian instrument maker who devised it c. 1840, + Greek -phonos "voiced, sounding." His father, Charles Joseph (1791-1865) invented the less popular saxhorn (1845). The surname is a spelling variant of Sachs, Sacks, literally "Saxon." Related: Saxophonist.
- say (v.)
- Old English secgan "to utter, inform, speak, tell, relate," from Proto-Germanic *sagjanan (cognates: Old Saxon seggian, Old Norse segja, Danish sige, Old Frisian sedsa, Middle Dutch segghen, Dutch zeggen, Old High German sagen, German sagen "to say"), from PIE *sokwyo-, from root *sekw- (3) "to say, utter" (cognates: Hittite shakiya- "to declare," Lithuanian sakyti "to say," Old Church Slavonic sociti "to vindicate, show," Old Irish insce "speech," Old Latin inseque "to tell say").
Past tense said developed from Old English segde. Not attested in use with inanimate objects (clocks, signs, etc.) as subjects before 1930. You said it "you're right" first recorded 1919; you can say that again as a phrase expressing agreement is recorded from 1942, American English. You don't say (so) as an expression of astonishment (often ironic) is first recorded 1779, American English.
- say (n.)
- "what someone says," 1570s, from say (v.). Meaning "right or authority to influence a decision" is from 1610s. Extended form say-so is first recorded 1630s. Compare Old English secge "speech."
- saying (n.)
- "utterance, recitation, action of the verb 'say,' " c. 1300, verbal noun from say (v.); meaning "something that has been said" (usually by someone thought important) is from c. 1300; sense of "a proverb" is first attested mid-15c.
Ça va sans dire, a familiar French locution, whose English equivalent might be "that is a matter of course," or "that may be taken for granted." But recently it has become the tendency to translate it literally, "that goes without saying," and these words, though originally uncouth and almost unmeaning to the unpractised ear, are gradually acquiring the exact meaning of the French. [Walsh, 1892]
- "farewell, good-bye" 1875, from Japanese, literally "if it is to be that way," from sayo "that way," + nara "if."
- third person singular of say (v.), c. 1300, eventually replacing saith.
- also sayid, Islamic title of honor, applied to descendants of Hussein, Muhammad's grandson, 1788, from Arabic sayyid "lord, chief," perhaps literally "speaker, spokesman."
- sbirro (n.)
- Italian policeman, 1660s, from Italian, "police officer" (plural sbirri), from Late Latin birrus "red," from Greek pyrros "red," literally "fire-colored," from pyr "fire," from PIE root *paəwr- "fire" (see fire (n.)). With unoriginal prefix (compare Spanish esbirro). Probably so called from the original color of the uniform.
- scab (n.)
- mid-13c., "skin disease," developed from Old English sceabb "scab, itch" (related to scafan "to shave, scrape, scratch") and from Old Norse skabb "scab, itch," both from Proto-Germanic *skab- "scratch, shave," from PIE *(s)kep- "to cut, scrape, hack" (see scabies). Sense reinforced by cognate Latin scabies "scab, itch, mange" (from scabere "to scratch").
Meaning "crust which forms over a wound or sore" is first attested c. 1400. Meaning "strikebreaker" first recorded 1806, from earlier sense of "person who refuses to join a trade union" (1777), probably from meaning "despicable person" (1580s), possibly borrowed in this sense from Middle Dutch.
- scabbard (n.)
- c. 1300, from Anglo-French *escauberc "sheath, vagina" (13c.), from Frankish or another Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *sker-berg-, literally "sword-protector," from *skar "blade" (source also of Old High German scar "scissors, blade, sword," from PIE *(s)ker- (1) "to cut;" see shear (v.)) + *berg- "protect" (source also of Old High German bergan "to protect;" see bury).
- scabies (n.)
- skin disease, "the itch," c. 1400, from Latin scabies "mange, itch, roughness," from scabere "to scratch, scrape," from PIE root *(s)kep-, a base forming words meaning "to cut, scrape, hack" (cognates: Gothic scaban, Old English sceafan "to scrape, shave;" Greek skaptein "to dig;" "Old Church Slavonic skobli "scraper;" Lithuanian skabus "sharp," skabeti "to cut;" Lettish skabrs "splintery, sharp"). Related: Scabious.
- scabrous (adj.)
- 1570s, "harsh, unmusical" (implied in scabrously), from Late Latin scabrosus "rough," from Latin scaber "rough, scaly," related to scabere "to scratch, scrape" (see scabies). Sense in English evolved to "vulgar" (1881), "squalid" (1939), and "nasty, repulsive" (c. 1951). Classical literal sense of "rough, rugged" attested in English from 1650s. Related: Scabrously; scabrousness.
- scad (n.)
- c. 1600, Cornish name for a type of fish (also known as horse mackerel) abundant on the British coast; of uncertain origin, perhaps a variant of shad. OED compares Welsh ysgaden "herrings," Norwegian dialectal skad, Swedish skädde "flounder."
- scads (n.)
- "large amounts," 1869, American English, earlier "dollar" (1855, usually in plural), of uncertain origin. Unknown connection to scad, the fish, which were "often very abundant and occasionally seen in enormous shoals":
In July, 1834, as Mr. Yarrell informs us, most extraordinary shoals passed up the channel along the coast of Glamorganshire; their passage occupied a week, and they were evidently in pursuit of the fry of the herring. The water appeared one dark mass of fish, and they were caught by cart-loads, and might even be baled out of the water by the hands alone. ["British Fish and Fisheries," 1849]
- scaffold (n.)
- mid-14c., "wooden framework used in building, etc., temporary structure for workmen to make walls," a shortening of an Old North French variant of Old French eschafaut "scaffold" (Modern French échafaud), probably altered (by influence of eschace "a prop, support") from chaffaut, from Vulgar Latin *catafalicum (see catafalque). Meaning "platform for a hanging" is from 1550s. Dutch schavot, German Schafott, Danish skafot are from French. As a verb from 1540s.
- scaffolding (n.)
- "temporary support," mid-14c.; see scaffold.
- scag (n.)
- see skag.
- scalable (adj.)
- 1570s, "able to be climbed;" see scale (v.1) + -able. From 1936 as "able to be graded by scale." Related: Scalably; scalability.
- scalar (adj.)
- "resembling a ladder," 1650s, from Latin scalaris "of or pertaining to a ladder," from scalae (plural) "ladder, steps, flight of steps" (see scale (n.2)). Mathematical sense first recorded 1846.
- scalawag (n.)
- also scallawag, "disreputable fellow," 1848, American English, originally in trade union jargon, of uncertain origin; perhaps an alteration (by influence of wag "habitual joker") of Scottish scallag "farm servant, rustic," itself an alteration of Scalloway, one of the Shetland Islands, wit the reference being to little Shetland ponies (an early recorded sense of scalawag was "undersized or worthless animal," 1854). In U.S. history, used from 1862 as a derogatory term for anti-Confederate native white Southerners.
- scald (v.)
- c. 1200, "to be very hot; to afflict painfully with hot liquid or steam," from Old North French escalder "to scald, to scorch" (Old French eschalder "heat, boil up, bubble," Modern French échauder), from Late Latin excaldare "bathe in hot water" (source also of Spanish escaldar, Italian scaldare "heat with hot water"), from Latin ex- "off" (see ex-) + calidus "hot" (see calorie). Related: Scalded; scalding. The noun is c. 1600, from the verb.
- scalding (adj.)
- early 13c., present participle adjective from scald (v.)). Scalding hot recorded from late 14c.
- scale (n.1)
- "skin plates on fish or snakes," c. 1300, from Old French escale "cup, scale, shell pod, husk" (12c., Modern French écale) "scale, husk," from Frankish *skala or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *skælo "split, divide" (cognates: Dutch schaal "a scale, husk," Old High German scala "shell," Gothic skalja "tile," Old English scealu "shell, husk"), from PIE root *(s)kel- (1) "to cut, cleave, split" (cognates: Latin culter "knife," scalpere "to cut, scrape;" Old Church Slavonic skolika "mussel, shell," Russian skala "rind, bark," Lithuanian skelti "split," Old English scell "shell," scalu "drinking cup, bowl, scale of a balance").
In reference to humans, as a condition of certain skin diseases, it is attested from c. 1400. As what falls from one's eye when blindness ends (usually figurative), it echoes Acts ix:18 (Latin tanquam squamæ, Greek hosei lepides).
- scale (n.2)
- weighing instrument, early 15c.; earlier "pan of a balance" (late 14c.); earlier still "drinking cup" (c. 1200), from Old Norse skal "bowl, drinking cup," in plural, "weighing scale" from a noun derivative of Proto-Germanic *skæla "split, divide" (cognates: Old Norse skel "shell," Old English scealu, Old Saxon skala "a bowl (to drink from)," Old High German scala, German Schale "a bowl, dish, cup," Middle Dutch scale, Dutch schaal "drinking cup, bowl, shell, scale of a balance"), from PIE root *skel- (1) "to cut" (see scale (n.1)).
The connecting sense seems to be of half of a bivalve ("split") shell used as a drinking cup or a pan for weighing. But according to Paulus Diaconus the "drinking cup" sense originated from a supposed custom of making goblets from skulls (see skull). Related: Scales. This, as a name for the zodiac constellation Libra, is attested in English from 1630s.
- scale (v.1)
- "to climb by or as by a ladder," late 14c., from scale (n.) "a ladder," from Latin scala "ladder, flight of stairs," from *scansla, from stem of scandere "to climb" (see scan (v.)). Related: Scaled; scaling.
- scale (n.3)
- "series of registering marks to measure by; marks laid down to determine distance along a line," late 14c., from Latin scala "ladder, staircase" (see scale (v.1)). Meaning "succession or series of steps" is from c. 1600; that of "standard for estimation" (large scale, small scale, etc.) is from 1620s. Musical sense (1590s), and the meaning "proportion of a representation to the actual object" (1660s) are via Italian scala, from Latin scala.
- scale (v.3)
- "weigh in scales," 1690s, from scale (n.2). Earlier "to compare, estimate" (c. 1600). Meaning "measure or regulate by a scale" is from 1798, from scale (n.3); that of "weigh out in proper quantities" is from 1841. Scale down "reduce proportionately" is attested from 1887. Scale factor is from 1948. Related: Scaled; scaling.
- scale (v.2)
- "remove the scales of (a fish, etc.)," c. 1400, from scale (n.1). Intransitive sense "to come off in scales" is from 1520s. Related: Scaled; scaling.
- scale-pan (n.)
- 1830, from scale (n.2) + pan (n.).
- scalene (adj.)
- "having unequal sides," 1680s, from Late Latin scalenus, from Greek skalenos "uneven, unequal, odd (numbered)," as a noun, "triangle with unequal sides," from skallein "chop, hoe," from PIE *(s)kel- (1) "to cut" (see scale (n.1)).
- scallion (n.)
- late 14c., scalun "kind of onion," also "thing of little value," from Anglo-French escalone, Old North French escalogne, or Old French eschaloigne, all from Vulgar Latin *escalonia, from Latin (cæpa) Ascalonia "(onion) from Ascalon," seaport in southwestern Levant (modern Ashkelon in Israel). Cognate with shallot.
- scallop (n.)
- "bivalve mollusk," c. 1400, from Old French escalope "shell (of a nut), carpace," variant of eschalope, probably from a Germanic source (compare Old Norse skalpr "sheath," Middle Dutch schelpe "shell"); see scale (n.1). The shells of the larger species have been used as domestic utensils. Extended 17c. to objects shaped like scallop shells, especially in design and dress. The verb in the cookery sense, "to bake with sauce in a scallop shell-shaped pan," is attested from 1737. Related: Scalloped; scalloping.
- scalp (n.)
- mid-14c., "top of the head (including hair)," presumably from a Scandinavian source (though exact cognates are wanting) related to Old Norse skalli "a bald head," skalpr "sheath, scabbard,"from the source of scale (n.1). French scalpe, German, Danish, Swedish skalp are from English. Meaning "head skin and hair as proof of death or a victory trophy" is from c. 1600.
- scalp (v.)
- "to cut off (someone's) scalp," 1670s, from scalp (n.), originally in reference to North American Indians. For ticket re-selling sense, see scalper. Related: Scalped; scalping. Compare German skalpern, Danish skalpere, Swedish skalpera. French scalper is from Germanic. Similarity to Latin scalpere "to cut, carve" is accidental.
- scalpel (n.)
- 1742, from Latin scalpellum "a surgical knife," diminutive of scalprum "knife, chisel, tool for scraping or cutting," from scalpere "to carve, cut," related to sculpere "to carve," from PIE root *(s)kel- "to cut, cleave" (see scale (n.1)).
- scalper (n.)
- 1650s as a type of surgical instrument; 1760 as "one who removes scalps," agent noun from scalp (v.).
Meaning "person who re-sells tickets at unauthorized prices for a profit," 1869, American English; earliest reference is to theater tickets, but often used late 19c. of brokers who sold unused portions of railway tickets. [Railways charged less per mile for longer-distance tickets; therefore someone travelling from New York to Chicago could buy a ticket all the way to San Francisco, get out at Chicago and sell it to a scalper, and come away with more money than if he had simply bought a ticket to Chicago; the Chicago scalper would hold the ticket till he found someone looking for a ticket to San Francisco, then sell it to him at a slight advance, but for less than the official price.] Perhaps from scalp (v.); scalper was a generic term for "con man, cheater" in late 19c. Or perhaps the connecting sense is the bounty offered for scalps of certain destructive animals (attested in New England from 1703) and sometimes Indians (i.e., having only part of something, but still getting paid). Some, though, see a connection rather to scalpel, the surgical instrument.
- scaly (adj.)
- also scaley, late 14c., from scale (n.1) + -y (2). Related: Scaliness.
- 1963, noun and verb, U.S. slang, a carnival term, of unknown origin. Perhaps related to 19c. British slang scamp "cheater, swindler" (see scamp (n.)).
- scamp (n.)
- 1782, "highway robber," probably from dialectal verb scamp "to roam" (1753, perhaps from 16c.), shortened from scamper. Used affectionately in sense "rascal" since 1808.
- scamp (v.)
- "do in a hasty manner," 1837, perhaps from a Scandinavian source (compare Old Norse skemma "to shorten, make shorter," from skammr "short; brief; lately"), or a blend of scant and skimp [Klein], or a back-formation from scamper. Related: Scamped; scamping.
- scamper (v.)
- "to run quickly," 1680s, probably from Flemish schampeeren, frequentative of schampen "run away," from Old North French escamper (Old French eschamper) "to run away, flee, quit the battlefield, escape," from Vulgar Latin *excampare "decamp," literally "leave the field," from Latin ex campo, from ex "out of" (see ex-) + campo, ablative of campus "field" (see campus). A vogue word late 17c. Related: Scampered; scampering. The noun is 1680s, from the verb.
- scampi (n.)
- 1930, plural of Italian scampo "prawn," ultimately from Greek kampe "a bending, a winding," from PIE root *kamp- "to bend" (see campus).
- scan (v.)
- late 14c., "mark off verse in metric feet," from Late Latin scandere "to scan verse," originally, in classical Latin, "to climb, rise, mount" (the connecting notion is of the rising and falling rhythm of poetry), from PIE *skand- "to spring, leap, climb" (cognates: Sanskrit skandati "hastens, leaps, jumps;" Greek skandalon "stumbling block;" Middle Irish sescaind "he sprang, jumped," sceinm "a bound, jump").
Missing -d in English is probably from confusion with suffix -ed (see lawn (n.1)). Sense of "look at closely, examine minutely (as one does when counting metrical feet in poetry)" first recorded 1540s. The (opposite) sense of "look over quickly, skim" is first attested 1926. Related: Scanned; scanning.
- scan (n.)
- 1706, "close investigation," from scan (v.). Meaning "act of scanning" is from 1937; sense of "image obtained by scanning" is from 1953.
- scandal (n.)
- 1580s, "discredit caused by irreligious conduct," from Middle French scandale (12c.), from Late Latin scandalum "cause for offense, stumbling block, temptation," from Greek skandalon "a trap or snare laid for an enemy," in New Testament, metaphorically as "a stumbling block, offense;" originally "trap with a springing device," from PIE *skand- "to leap, climb" (see scan (v.); also see slander (n.), which is another form of the same word).
Attested from early 13c., but the modern word likely is a reborrowing. Meaning "malicious gossip," also "shameful action or event" is from 1590s; sense of "person whose conduct is a disgrace" is from 1630s. Scandal sheet "sensational newspaper" is from 1939. Scandal-monger is from 1702.
- scandalise (v.)
- chiefly British English spelling of scandalize. For suffix, see -ize. Related: Scandalised; scandalising.
- scandalize (v.)
- late 15c., from Middle French scandaliser (12c.), from Church Latin scandalizare, from late Greek skandalizein "to make to stumble; tempt; give offense to (someone)," from skandalon (see scandal). Originally "make a public scandal of;" sense of "shock by doing something improper" first recorded 1640s. Dryden and Shakespeare use simple scandal as a verb. Related: Scandalized; scandalizing; scandalization.